09/27/12

On Not Writing

Writers will say, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block,” or “I don’t believe in writer’s block.” Okay. Well. What’s it called when every time I write a sentence it’s the worst sentence I’ve ever written, and this happens so consistently that soon I become afraid of the page itself, until the doubt gives way to fear and anxiety as I watch the month of September slip pitifully through my fingers with nothing to show for it? But what can be done? Another day, another dollar. Just go grimly on.

I thought getting out of my house on Phillips Street would help, so I took a greyhound to Seattle to write and hang out with my friend Laura’s dog. I did one out of two of those things. The greyhound driver out of Montana went ahead and told us all sorts of facts about the 1913 fire that apparently ravaged St. Regis and the surrounding wilderness. Her facts were morbid and came in unpredictable spurts. Just when I thought I could relax, she’d get on the horn and say, “Just past that tree line you’ll find a cave that collapsed in the 1913 fire, killing 13 men and all six of their horses.” People on the bus were really into her and who could blame them. The driver on the way home was boring. He didn’t have any wildfire facts. All he did was remind us after every single stop that there was no smoking on the bus. Dude, does anyone in the year 2012 think that it’s okay to smoke anywhere at any time? What a dumb, boring bus driver.

Here are some things that I’ve been doing instead of writing:

  • Craigslist is the new Submittable; all told I’d say I spend around 2-4 hours a day perusing it. I look in the jobs section and weep. I look for open apartments, sublets and roomshares (as if lightning is going to strike twice and I’ll find a roommate with an even BIGGER picture of his face hanging from the wall). Mostly, I look in the pet section where I mourn all the lost dogs and dream of buying all the puppies. Somebody advertised that they found a 3-legged dog near Russell Street. I wrote them to explain that no, it was not my dog, but if they didn’t find its owner than surely I am destined to step in, because I have reoccurring dreams of owning a 3-legged dog. They did not reply. It makes me mad to think about it. I should have found that dog. I never find any dogs.
  • My roommate Jesse and I continue to play house, but is it really a game? I do the dishes and think, “Ha ha, pretending to be in a domestic partnership, doing the dishes.” I think if I get married and have children it will be the same in my head. “Ha ha, brushing my daughter’s hair. Ha ha, second mortgage.” Back when I delivered pizzas I used to pretend that I was a serf in feudal times, working for pennies. I asked my coworkers if they ever did anything similar, and they were like, “What? No.”
  • Jesse asked me to marry him on facebook chat while I was in Seattle, making him the second man in 2012 to propose to me on the Internet. This is what happens when you get older. You can’t just casually date anymore. Everything is a fucking catastrophe. Men are all, “You’re going to rip my fucking heart out of my chest!” It’s grave. To his marriage proposal I said, “Probably,” and that made him mad, so I said, “Sure.” Then we walked around a table holding hands backwards  and now we’re “married.” My roommate is like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman in that he doesn’t like to kiss on the mouth.
  • We are so poor. Every day I ride my bike across town to my post office box. I put my key in the lock and pray, and every day, there’s no check waiting for me and I ride home defeated. It’s always a dreary bike ride for some reason; I have terrible thoughts.
  • The smoke that lingers in the hills of Missoula is disconcerting, definitely, and sure, it hurts to breathe, but the truth is that I like it. It seems like nothing affects me anymore. I used to cry when the music swelled in movies and now I feel nothing. For awhile there, the busses were free, but I had to pay this morning, which. What the fuck. Riding the bus should be free. Everything in the world should be free.
  • And to think, just a couple of weeks ago I quit smoking. Here’s the classic joke: “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop smoking!” That’s not funny at all.
  • Reading books, watching films, listening to music. Just trying to get through this thing. Trying to remember how to write again. Trying not to panic. The world is a just and orderly place, right? And to die is different from what anyone supposed? And luckier?
09/11/12

oh, I don’t know.

There’s this boss moment in The Lion King that I can never shut up about when Mufasa appears as a ghost in the clouds, looks down at Simba and says, “Simba. You are more than what you have become.”

I looked up the Hamlet equivalent, and he’s not nearly as inspirational. The Ghost just tells Hamlet to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” In the Disney version, Scar never bangs Mufasa’s wife, and when Simba goes back to reclaim his kingdom, he intends for a peaceful overthrowing of the fraudulent monarchy. It’s only by accident and circumstance that he ends up throwing Scar into a pit of flames.

Life’s not really like that, kids! In the real world (i.e. Shakespeare) you obsess over what’s real and what’s imagined. You have no idea what this life is for. It’s just given to you out of nowhere, and now what are you supposed to do with it? Even if you wanted to be fair and just, how do you know what that looks like? Who can you trust to show you? How do you know what the right thing is? Once you think you have it, will you have the guts to act?

The point is that Hamlet’s a good play and I wish I were writing more.

Here’s some more shit about the house I share with Jesse:
As soon as you walk in the living room, there’s a gigantic canvas painting of Jesse’s face on the wall painted by his ex girlfriend. The place is sparsely furnished and sometimes cold. I told him our house reminded me of Xanadu. He hasn’t seen Citizen Kane but when I laid it out for him he seemed pretty receptive to the idea. Jesse says that people always think that their lives are going to work out, that one day they’ll have everything they want and when that day arrives, things will be better. But Jesse knows that it’s not really like that. Here is no different than anywhere else and it will never get better, so accept your marriage, accept your shitty job and try to find some happiness in it. I said I agreed more with the first part than the second, but I’m still working out the details.

There are fires in the bitterroot and the smoke seems to be getting to people. Some nights the moon is pink, which is beautiful but not at all normal and I wonder if she’s enraged or happy or what. The smoke doesn’t bother me but my friends seem pretty upset and I think it’s as good a time as any to get the fuck out of Montana.

On that note, I’m catching a greyhound to Seattle for five days to watch my friend Laura’s dog. Don’t worry, I’ll live-tweet everything.

09/6/12

my domestic situation so far.

The house I moved into has a white picket fence around it, which is hilarious because inside we’re living out a Raymond Carver story, the early years, the stripped down Gordon Lish horror show years, but with YouTube. We listen to a lot of sad ballads on YouTube.

Earlier in the week, my roommate Jesse encountered a nest of wasps who unmercifully attacked his foot with their sharp stingers, and their poison has been coursing through his veins ever since. He hobbles into the house after a day of working, his body broken. Jesse is a ball of thorns wrapped in thick, dark skin. He grits his teeth and says, “I run on hate and pain!” I think he is speaking literally. When I touch him, I can feel hate and pain brewing under the surface. I’m trying to find the most prudent way to love him.

Jesse’s an orphan and a roofer and he stares at me for what I consider to be uncomfortable lengths of time. He tells me I move through the world awkwardly, which I already knew but it’s always devastating to be reminded. He said to me, “I feel embarrassed for you sometimes,” and well, that makes two of us.

The first week I lived here he asked me where he could read some of my writing, and I told him about this blog. I watched him read through every post, and he laughed in a way I found uncomfortable and a little terrifying. Every day since, he asks me, “Have you updated your blog yet?” He says he wants me to write about him. People often don’t mean that, I find. Actually, most people don’t even say that. We will see.

Jesse is almost always mad at me, and I find it frustrating and exhilarating. I keep trying to learn the rules, but they’re always changing. There are no rules! He’s got bright white teeth and expressive eyebrows. He rotates between a few torn up t-shirts and camouflage cargo shorts. Jesse stares at himself in the mirror constantly. I find him egotistical and difficult.

When I watch Jesse pick the best cucumbers out of a pile of cucumbers, I start to fall in love with him, and then he opens his mouth and says something. So far we’ve managed to avoid the awkward situation of meeting a person on craigslist who then immediately becomes your live-in boyfriend by not calling it that. Fool-proof plan.

Here are two more facts about the house:
1. An old woman who lived here for 30 or 40 years before us fell on a knife in the kitchen and died. The little kids at the elementary school across the street thought she was a witch. I’m pretty sure her ghost lives here.
2. There was a piano before I moved in, but the summer subletters stole it.